The study, published in Age and Ageing, also found that only half of all people with dementia had a documented annual review even though GP surgeries are offered financial incentives to carry these out. Women were found to be at particular risk of staying on antipsychotic or sedative medication for longer. The researchers suggest this might be because they have fewer appointments where their treatment can be reviewed.
George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
‘This research adds to the many concerns surrounding a condition which is already the most feared among people over 55. In addition to facing an illness without a known cure, people with dementia should not be expected to face inequalities in accessing the few health services that are available.
‘Everyone with dementia should have an annual review, but this research raises some grave concerns that women, who are disproportionately affected by the condition, aren’t getting the support they need. What is particularly worrying is that medication isn’t been reviewed regularly, which could lead to the prolonged and unnecessary use of antipsychotics.
‘What is clear is that people with dementia need support to help them access the various health and care services they are entitled to. For many people this will be in the form of a family carer, however many are left by Government to rely on charities or threadbare social care services. We need to see an end to the increasingly impossible environment in which these services operate as a matter of urgency.’